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Don't know how to setup Skype on your Mac?
By Alan Zisman © 2010-04-10
A friend of mine - let's call him Gary - was wanting Skype
on his Mac, and not sure how to go about it. These days, with folks
staying at home, video calling is a popular way to keep in touch with
friends and family. Apple's Facetime is
popular - but it's limited to people using Apple products - Macs,
iPhones, iPads. Want to connect to a Windows or Android user? Too bad.
has gotten a lot of attention recently - it's free and cross platform
and relatively easy to get up and running, but more recently, it's
gotten a lot of flack for privacy concerns. It uses an online meeting
metaphor - even if you want to just video-chat with one other person.
(See 6 Popular Video Conferencing Tools Compared).
Gary wanted Skype - which has some advantages - it's free and available
on all sorts of platforms. it comes from Microsoft, so it has a real
company backing it up - with a business model that doesn't rely on
selling your personal details. And it uses a phone-call metaphor,
perhaps more familiar than setting up a meeting.
around for a long time, allowing voice and video calls to other Skype
users (on computer, smartphone, or tablet) for free, while encouraging
users to send them a bit of money that can be spent connecting to phone
services - locally or long-distance - for inexpensive long-distance
phoning to people who don't have computers (or aren't Skype users).
There are lots of options now - but when Skype was new (it was first released in 2003 and peaked with 660 million users in 2010), it was a big deal.
So let's get Gary started:
- Go to https://skype.com and download the installer:
you're wanting it on an iPhone/iPad/Android device, the website will
point you to your appropriate app store. Mac (or Windows users) just
click on the blue Get Skype button to download the installer
appropriate for your laptop or desktop computer.
- Wait for
the download to finish. You may (depending on how your web browser is
set up) see an icon for the downloading - and eventually downloaded -
file in the lower-left of your browser window. In that case, you can
double-click the icon (when it's ready) to start the installation. If
not, you need to locate the downloaded file - which many people find
challenging. On Macs (and Windows), it's typically in a folder cleverly
called Downloads. Here it is in my Mac's Finder - the application
Mac-users use to find files (hence the name - Windows users have a File
Explorer app for the same sorts of chores):
Mac Finder defaults to 'column view' - yours may show large or small
icons, details (file name, size, date, etc).... so don't panic if yours
looks differently. Easy way to get to the Downloads folder in the
Finder (or in Windows' File Explorer) - click on the icon labelled
'Downloads' in the list on the left. Once you're there, look for a file
with Skype at the beginning of the name - double-click it.
may see an icon for a disk on your Desktop labelled 'Skype' - if so,
double-click it. Or you might just see a window open up looking
the blue blob with the white S on it and drop it onto the light blue
folder labelled Applications. (Windows users will instead get walked
through a Setup program - though they may first have to attend to
a security pop up or a blinking item on their Taskbar to allow the Setup program to run).
Skype is copied to the Applications folder, Mac users need to find the
app in their Applications folder. (Windows users should look in the
Start Menu or see if there's a startup icon on their Desktop).
- once this program - or any downloaded program - is installed, you no
longer need the installer in your Downloads folder. Feel free to delete
it - I've seen people with Downloads folders cluttered with multiple
copies of the same installer, as they downloaded it, didn't know where
to find it, downloaded it again, still didn't know what to do, and
Here I'm (again) using my Mac's Finder - this time to
look in the Applications folder - again, easily accessed from an icon
in the left-hand column:
Find the icon labelled Skype and double-click to open it.
will open (or 'run') the app (or program or application - three names
for the same thing). But first, on the Mac, you'll be told that this is
a program you downloaded from the Internet - and you'll be asked to
confirm you really want to do this. (No image for that). Since this is what you want to do, tell Nanny-Mac so. You'll see:
Click Let's go to enter the wonderful world of Skype!
- In order to get started using Skype, though, there's a bit of necessarily preparation. First you need an account:
try logging in with your Mac's log in name and password or your Apple
ID or iCloud ID... none of those will work! Instead, you need a Skype
or Microsoft account....
Skype users created a Skype account - and if you still have one, it
will still work. But since 2011, Skype has been owned by Microsoft -
and now, if you have an account for any Microsoft product, it will
work. Many people have Microsoft accounts and may not even realize it -
if you have a Hotmail or Outlook.com email, for instance. Or if you are
an Office 365 user. Microsoft is encouraging Windows 10 users to log-in
using a Microsoft account (again, any of the above). I already have a
Microsoft account, so I used that to log in. If you don't have a
Microsoft account (or want to use a different one with Skype) click the Create One link. But you can't use Skype without having an account with Microsoft.
least Microsoft is less likely to sell your personal information to
advertisers, unlike some companies.... (I'm looking at you, Google!)
you're logged in, Skype needs to make sure it can work with your
computer's hardware - in particular, the audio (speaker and microphone)
and video (camera). First the audio:
Speak and see if the line of blue dots under Microphone responds. Set your speaker volume and click on Test Audio. Make a free test call. Then Continue.
- Now see if the video is working:
If you see yourself, all is well. Don't worry about how you look! Click Continue...
- Skype will suck in all the Contacts on your computer, so that you'll have people you can call...
Notice that you don't have an option not to do this... so if you're going to use Skype, your only option is to click OK.
- And now you're done - ready to get in touch with folks around the
world. In my case, since I've been a Skype user (not often, but for a
long time), even though this is a new installation on this Mac, my
Skype window includes a history of my Skype use on multple other
A couple of things - now you need to figure out how to actually use
Skype. Maybe I'll write something on that another time. And there is a
separate Skype for Business program that Microsoft includes as part of
some recent versions of Microsoft Office - both for Windows and Mac.
This is not that one.
|About This Blog...
I've been writing about computers, software, Internet and the rest of
technology since 1992, including a 17 year (1995-2012) stint as 'High
Tech Office' columnist for Business in Vancouver. This blog includes
thoughts on technology, society, and anything else that might interest
me - travel (mostly to Italy), accordions. Whatever. Comments, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
are welcome - and may be published in whole or part. You can follow me
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